Should I be able to force my boss to do something I could not force her to do if she was not my boss? In the case of Hobby Lobby v. Sebelius, the Supreme Court said no. The Affordable Care Act requires employers to cover 20 specific kinds of birth control in their health care plans. While Hobby Lobby, owned by the Green family, provides coverage for 16 of them, they objected to four because they cause abortions and the Greens believes abortion is wrong. They also believe the government should not force family-run companies to violate their consciences, so they sued. In the end, the Supreme Court agreed that people do not lose the right to their convictions just because they started a business and hired people. The Green family would not be obligated to give me money for abortion drugs if I asked them for it on the street. Why should it be different because I work for them and approach them in the office? Some say the Greens should not object because the drugs in question do not really cause abortions. But that argument misses the point entirely. People can, and do, debate the science, but what we should be able to agree to is that the purpose of conscience rights is to prevent the government from dictating to the people what beliefs and values are acceptable. The Hobby Lobby decision simply affirmed the longstanding American idea that government cannot punish someone for holding a minority opinion. That benefits all of us because we all have lines we will not cross. Are the Greens imposing their religion on their employees and denying other people access to birth control they have a right to? Only if you have a bizarre view of rights. Your right to something does not obligate you to get it for me. I have a right to keep and bear arms, but I cannot force my boss to buy me a shotgun. Does this mean millions will be denied basic health care because of their employer’s whims? No. The world is big enough for all of us. Some relationships will work well and others will not. There is no need for some of us to try to control the others because we are offended by their choices. The real tragedy is that we are having this debate at all. It was not that long ago that our belief in individual freedom defined us. We were proud to defend our neighbor’s right of self-determination even if we would make different choices ourselves. We celebrated our differences. Today, individual freedom is a problem some are trying to solve. We must be better than forcing our neighbors to violate their conscience so it is easier for me to get an already easy-to-get pill. Mandates like this one are not just illegal, they are mean in the way that schoolyard bullies are mean. I may not understand why you believe the things you do, but I should have the decency to respect it anyway, even if I am trying to persuade you otherwise. Yes, you have the right to birth control. No, you don’t have the right to make the Green family buy it for you. How does this decision affect you? You, your family, and your neighbors all have a little more freedom. It is possible that one day you might have an employer who offers only 16 forms of contraception instead of 20. Still, compared with those who gave their lives, fortunes, and sacred honor, it is a small price to pay to be free. w Joseph Backholm is the executive director of the Family Policy Institute of Washington.